Therapy pigs are the latest set of animals brought to Locust Walk, this time by a team of five Wharton students in an entrepreneurship class.
The event was organized by College and Wharton senior James McNeese, Wharton senior Bhumika Sharma, Wharton junior Isaiah Washington, Wharton sophomore Nicole Seah, and Wharton freshman Pattryze Garate Solano for MGMT 230, a class that teaches entrepreneurial skills. The project was part of the class’ “Swag Day,” in which teams of students brought in an item or experience they obtained for free.
“The idea is it forces them to forward a bunch of entrepreneurial behaviors,” Management professor Tyler Wry, who teaches the course, said of the assignment. “You have to be resourceful, use a lot of networks, be creative, be persistent.”
The team members said they came up with the idea of bringing in therapy pigs because they wanted to run an event focused on stress relief. After presenting the three pigs in class on Monday, they brought them to a stand on Locust Walk near the Compass where people could pet them, feed them, and take photos with them. Passersby could also buy merchandise such as shirts and mugs and make donations to support FairyTale Acres The Rescue, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that rescues abused and abandoned pigs. FairyTale Acres loaned the pigs to the Wharton students for the event.
Students said they were surprised to see the pigs and that they felt more relaxed after interacting with them.
“We always hear about all the great things on the really pretty days out here at Penn, and we got this experience, [which was] an impromptu surprise,” said Lizzy Bader, an admitted student to the Class of 2023 who was visiting Penn for Quaker Days.
“[It’s] definitely different than seeing the goats or the dogs,” College freshman Sarah Materasso said. “I really like the pigs.”
The five Wharton students said they initially planned to offer animal yoga as a stress-relieving exercise, but they were unable to find an organization that offered it for free. Instead, they were referred by another company to FairyTale Acres, which was happy to bring rescue pigs to the event.
“People, especially during finals, are super stressed, so we wanted to do a quick six-minute yoga session for the class.” Garate said. “And then we run across yoga with alpacas on Facebook. [But] they said no. And then we figure why don’t we bring the animals? So we found this rescue with therapy pigs.”
Team members said the project helped them practice reaching out to local organizations, which tested their teamwork and entrepreneurial skill.
“It took a lot of creativity and persistence and ambition to make this happen," Washington said. "That’s something entrepreneurs go through all the time.”
“We had to work very closely in the team,” Seah added. “It showed diversity of thought as well, because we all came up with different ideas on how to incorporate the pig into the project.”
FairyTale Acres, located in Lancaster, Pa., was established in 2015 by Christine Hainley, and has since focused on rescuing pigs and raising awareness of abuse toward pigs. While this is the organization's first time on a college campus, it often visits schools, nursing homes, and other community institutions to allow people to interact with the rescues.
“A lot of people view [pigs] as dirty, stinky farm animals, or just a source of food — they can be so much more than that,” Hainly said. “ Our goal is [to] make people smile, from animals all the way up to humans. It’s just about treating everyone with respect."
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